Friday, February 17, 2012
Attorneys Close Florida Triple Homicide Trial
Ruby Yolanda Parker Murder Trial Ready For Jury
LABELLE, FL. -- Closing arguments were begun today the at close of the two-week long trial of Ruby Yolanda Parker in the deaths of three Clewiston residents in August 2006.
The state and defense were each expecting to take two hours each to summarize their case to the 12 member Hendry county, Florida jury. After closing statements, Judge John E. Duryea, Jr. predicted taking about 30 minutes to read instructions on the law to the jury before he sends them to deliberate on the fate of the 36 year old defendant.
Murdered in their home five and one-half years ago were Joey and Carolyn Whitaker and Myrtle Cox, 80-year old mother of Carolyn. The victims lived at 231 Avenida Del Rio in Clewiston.
Assistant State Attorney Hamid Hunter led off his closing arguments to the jury explaining the legal requirements for the jury to find Parker guilty of 1st degree murder, home invasion and possible lesser charges.
Hunter described the deaths of the victims; Joey Whitaker strangled by Parker's boyfriend Richard Harker by a cord around the neck. Carolyn Whitaker smothered with double faced tape wrapped three times around her head as Harker sat on her head, according to testimony by Parker this week, and forensic investigation.
Elderly Myrtle Cox "fought for her life," strangled by Harker, with injuries to her neck.
Attorney Hunter told the jury he conceded Harker was responsible for all three deaths, but the issue was whether girlfriend Parker was a principal by assisting Harker.
Parker admitted helping Harker clean up the evidence from the home after the murders, taking tape and cords to the Whitaker truck which they then stole. They forgot to take tape off Mrs. Whitaker and left it behind.
Hamid told the jury Parker's testimony at trial didn't match what she told investigators right after her arrest. Her court testimony, he said, conflicted with the tapes and transcripts of 2006; she now explained she was held against her will and afraid to go against Harker for fear of her life.
Hamid said the testimony of Harker's wife, Mary this week showed true trauma as a result of spousal abuse against her by Harker; disorganized speaking, rambling speech, skipping from subject to subject, while defendant Parker, claiming to be an abuse victim in her testimony, was totally organized and had an answer for everything, even correcting Hamid when he misspoke.
Noted was the testimony of Parker. and a surveillance tape showing that Harker went to the Everglades Federal Credit Union in Clewiston about 3 p.m. to cash a check written by Mr. Whitaker, while Parker stayed behind at the house.
The jury will consider the guilt or innocence of Parker and a verdict may be possible by Monday.
Update: The jury deliberated until about midnight Friday without a decision. They will resume deliberations at the LaBelle Courthouse Saturday at 1 p.m.
(Video: Excerpts from the trial, including defendant Parker testifying, and Assistant State Attorney Hamid Parker's closing arguments.)